Tim Alexander, revered Santa Rosa shoemaker, owner of Tate’s Shoe Service, dies at 67
Most days were good for Tim Alexander, who channeled the minds of blacksmiths and wheelwrights and masters of other largely lost workshop trades as each morning he donned a worn apron and began mending or modifying the parts. Sonoma County shoes, handbags, leather backpacks and zippers. -Have you got.
It wasn’t so good on the day a few years ago when Alexander, the sole owner of the famous Tate’s Shoe Service in downtown Santa Rosa, learned that his humble business comeback had somehow made it happen. Bark, the online business directory and the participatory evaluation platform. And Tate’s mostly attracted rave reviews on Yelp.
Alexander told his brother on the outside that the last thing he needed was for the internet to bring him more business.
“He always complained about never catching up,” recalls Dan Alexander, who grew up in Santa Rosa and now lives in Amador County. His brother, the compact white-bearded shoemaker didn’t need to promote the Tate shoe service because his seven days a week, work ethic, affordable rates, and good neighborly manners kept his classic little shop cluttered and chaotic filled with more shoes and such as he could get.
Tim Alexander, a 1972 Santa Rosa High School graduate who went to work as an apprentice at Tate’s on Mendocino Avenue in his late twenties and bought it a few years later, died on November 28, a month after s ‘being collapsed in the store of a seizure. He was 67 years old.
“He’s Santa Rosa. He is Santa Rosa 40 years ago, ”said Armand Ausiello, a longtime friend of Alexander’s and also his owner. Ausiello has the 5th Street Bar and Grill in Ausiello, located right next to the shoe store.
Alexander “was just an old school guy,” Ausiello said. The restaurateur noticed that Alexander often found himself stuck with shoes he was repairing that were never collected, so he suggested that the shoemaker take a deposit when the shoes are dropped off.
But Alexander did not consent to it. “He was so confident,” Ausiello said. He saw that Alexander worked hard, but often enough had to tell customers at the counter that their shoes weren’t ready yet. Ausiello thought that perhaps one of the reasons Alexander hadn’t charged a deposit was that he couldn’t tell when a customer’s shoes or bag or whatever would be ready to be picked up.
The shoemaker worked full days Monday through Friday, half a day on Saturday, and usually at least half a day on Sunday.
“He would leave the house anywhere between 4am and 10am to 8am,” his longtime partner Sherrie Kane said. He usually arrived home at 6.30 p.m. or 7 p.m.
On Sunday, Kane said: “He would try to come in and catch up.” Although the store is closed on Sunday, she said, “If someone knocked, he would open the door.
When Alexander had some spare time, he relished watching and cheering on the Oakland A’s, Warriors and Giants.
He was an avid reader of newspapers, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine and Scientific American. Kane said he also enjoyed talking politics and playing poker when he had the chance, and following horse races.
Timothy Lee Alexander was born in Santa Rosa to Tom and Norma Alexander on July 22, 1954. He and his two older brothers, Tom and Dan, ran freely like most children around this time, and in the summer they spent long days at the Ridgway. swimming pool, located near their family home.
Tim Alexander hadn’t left Santa Rosa High for a long time when he accepted a job in the shoe department of the Joseph Magnin store, then located at Coddingtown Mall. Ian Gordon worked in the mid-1970s at Tate’s Shoe Service, and he remembers Alexander coming up with Magnin’s bridal shoes and other shoes that needed to be modified.
In the early 1980s, Alexander left the department store and went to work at Tate, then located on Fifth Street, near Pedersen’s Furniture.
The shoe repair shop, said to date from 1922, was owned in the 1980s by Don Alden, who had bought it from Smith Petitt “Smitty” Jones. Ian Gordon helped train newcomer Alexander before becoming a lawyer himself and working for the Sonoma County Public Defender’s Office and later as special legal counsel for Farmers Insurance.
Alexander purchased the shoe store in 1985. Lawyer Gordon has remained a friend and client, and is delighted with the way Alexander has continued the tradition of service at Tate’s.
“The customers loved him, it showed. Everyone did it, ”Gordon said. He said if Alexander had ever had a bad day, he didn’t show it.
Now retired from law, Gordon said Alexander shines in his job and in his dealings with people. But in organizational skills, not so much.
Resisting suggestions that he was tidying up the way he put shoes and other items in the store, Gordon said, Alexander just stacked things up.
When someone came for a pickup, “sometimes it had to be looking for 15 minutes,” Gordon said. But the typical Tate’s Shoe Service customer loved him nonetheless.
In some of the Yelp reviews that the shoemaker didn’t seek out or particularly liked, customers praised Alexander as a magician and “shoe shaman.” One reviewer wrote that walking into Tate feels like you are in Geppetto’s store and that “Pinocchio is about to come out of the back”.
A customer was in the shoe store when a seizure shot Alexander on October 26. He went by ambulance to the Providence Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. He was getting better when he suffered a massive stroke, then transferred to California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, where he underwent brain surgery.
He was brought back to his home in Santa Rosa when he died on November 28.
Relatives of Alexander said he had spoken of retiring and selling the shoe store. Friend and owner Ausiello assured him that a new owner of Tate’s could continue to occupy the space on Mendocino Avenue.
Dan Alexander said the family would like Tate’s to continue, but a lot has to fall into place for the business to be sold. For now, a couple of friends are opening the store from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays so that customers can pick up their shoes and other items.
In addition to his partner in Santa Rosa and his brother in Amador County, Tim Alexander is survived by several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his brother Tom.
Her family plan to celebrate her life at a later date. The family suggests memorial donations to Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County, 1814 Empire Industrial Court, Suite G, Santa Rosa 95403, or to favorite charities.